The former San Benito County Chamber of Commerce CEO who resigned as of Tuesday said she did so to start her own event-hosting business.
Candace Ledesma succeeded former chamber CEO Juli Vieira back in July but resigned four months into the post in order to start an event business on a property her parents own in the San Benito County countryside.
She said her parents for years have contemplated what to do with the land they own and proposed the opportunity for her to go into business. Ledesma said she is in the beginning stages of obtaining proper licensing and permits to host events on the ranch.
She said running the chamber and a business would have created a conflict of interest.
“That’s one of the questions the board asked me,” Ledesma said about the interview process before her hiring. Back then, she asked the board if that would be a conflict.
“They said yes,” she said. “I think that always resonated in the back of my mind.”
She said the business prospect recently came back on the table. She also mentioned how the family has been through a “whirlwind” in the past year and several months while dealing with medical issues and a tragedy. She said her father asked if she wanted to spearhead the business and spend more time with the family while doing so.
She said she had been in communication with chamber board Chairman Victor Gomez over the past three or four weeks and submitted a notice two weeks before her resignation took effect Tuesday.
Gomez on Thursday told San Benito Live the chamber board will meet Monday to decide on a direction for recruiting a new CEO and will discuss whether to hire an interim.
“We were really impressed by Candace’s work,” Gomez said. “She did a really good job. Even though she was with us for a short time, she sparked and energized a lot of the business community.”
“While being in my role, I was fortunate to meet such wonderful and supportive community members,” she wrote.
Ledesma told San Benito Live that people she encountered in the chamber role had been “really open minded” to her ideas. She’d been told she’d never get wineries to join the chamber as members and made an effort to get them onboard.
“I was able to get all of them to join except for one,” she said, noting how Guerra Cellars was the exception because it’s closed right now, but had plans to reconsider once the next summer concert season gets going.